Leading UAE Amateurs Join a Strong Field at MENA Tour’s Shaikh Maktoum Dubai Open

September 11th, 2016

DUBAI, Sept 11 — Supremely-talented Rayhan Thomas will be hoping to garner more glory when he tees it up at the Shaikh Maktoum Dubai Open on Monday, teeming with self-belief following his epoch-making victory at last week’s Dubai Creek Open.

Rashid Hamood of UAE watching the flight of his drive on the fifth during a practice round at Al Badia Golf Club on Sunday

Rashid Hamood of UAE watching the flight of his drive on the fifth during a practice round at Al Badia Golf Club on Sunday

The young prodigy showed he had the smarts to handle pressure in golf when he defeated England’s Luke Joy in a playoff to become the first amateur to win on the MENA Golf Tour.

In the process, the leading UAE amateur also became the youngest winner on the tour at 16 years, nine months and 24 days, eclipsing the record of Thriston Lawrence of South Africa, who was 18 years, 11 months and one day old when he won the Ras Al Khaimah Classic in 2015.

It was only appropriate that Thomas, who is supported by the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, achieved feat coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the foundation that strives to identify and nurture the talented MENA nationals and expatriates with the aim of producing a future generation of champions.

With Thomas’ trending in the correct direction, there’s plenty to suggest that more records could be on his way in his burgeoning career when he joins a strong 121-player field that includes 27 amateurs.

In fulsome reflection of the Emirates Golf Federation’s support to the MENA Golf Tour, the event will see four leading Emirati amateurs — Hassan Al Musharrekh, Saif Thabet, Ahmed Skaik and Rashid Hamood — showcase their talent along with the country’s only professional, Ahmed Al Musharrekh, and top stars from Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

The event will offer the UAE amateurs another opportunity to iron out some of the kinks in their game in the run-up to the Eisenhower Trophy in Mexico from September 21-24.

The return of Joshua White, the winner of the tour’s Order of Merit title in 2014, will further enliven the competition.

White, who finished in a tie for 10th at the European Tour’s Trophee Hassan II in May earlier this year, will be joined by his fellow Englishmen Zane Scotland, Lee Corfield, Jake Shepherd and Luke Joy, who between them combine for 19 victories on the MENA Golf Tour.

Other notables in the field include defending champion Per Barth of Sweden, Andrew Marshall, a mainstay on the European Tour for many years since turning professional in 1995, Carlos Balmaseda of Spain, Chile’s Antonio Costa and England’s Danny Poulter, who all will be hoping to breathe new life into his season with a strong performance this week.

Spearheading the challenge in the MENA Division for the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation award will be Morocco’s Faycal Serhgini, who currently leads the region’s Order of Merit ahead of his compatriot Younes El Hassani.

With 28 countries represented in the field, the English players top the chart with 39 entries, followed by Sweden (11), South Africa (eight) and Spain (eight) as the tour stages its six consecutive event at Al Badia Golf Club.

Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, thanked players for their overwhelming response to the tournament. “It’s great seeing UAE national team members, in particular, sign up for the event. We need all the support that we can get from the region’s federations for the overall development of the game.

“The experience that the region’s amateurs will gain from competing alongside professionals will hold them in good stead for their future regional and international engagements,” he added.

“We are fortunate to have the backing of major golf clubs like Al Badia that play a crucial role in the success of an event. Again, they have done a great job in presenting the course in fantastic condition and we look forward some exciting golf.”

MENA Tour Order of merit standings after the Dubai Creek Open:

Professionals:

1.Zane Scotland (Scotland) $27,671 (Dh 101,629)

  1. Craig Hinton (England) $17,407
  2. Luke Joy (England) $16,888
  3. Andrew Marshall (England) $16,172
  4. Antonio Costa Chile) $15,296

Amateurs:

1.Rayhan Thomas (India) 205 points

  1. Benjamin David (England) 76
  2. Ben Alexander (Scotland) 55
  3. Edward Holland (England) 52
  4. T-4. Yassine Touhami (Morocco) 52

*Press release and photo by MENA Tour